THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
BEING A MODEL TO BE IMITATED
Today’s reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12
In today’s reading, Paul gives instruction on some aspects
of servant leadership.
the servant leader is one who works hard. “On the contrary,
in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to
burden any of you.” (v.8b).
servant leadership is hard work. Many times he will be tired,
disappointed, frustrated. At times he might even want to
give up, considering it a thankless task. It of course is
not a thankless task, since we actually serve the Lord,
who is never outdone in generosity. We just need to endure
and persevere, grateful for the privilege to serve God’s
people, and considering any suffering as salvific.
servant leader bears the burden for those whom he serves.
He carries his people in his heart. He empathizes with their
struggles and pain. Since he is there to serve and not to
be served, then he does not become a burden to those whom
he serves. He is not autocratic or abusive of his authority.
leadership is not an 8-5 job. It is a “24-hour job.”
While subordinates should be taught how to be considerate
of the time and energy of their leaders, a true servant
leader is one who is on call, responding to the reasonable
needs of his subordinates .... night and day.
the servant leader works quietly and minds his own business.
“Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus
Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.” (v.12).
is not showy. He does not do things for show or for applause.
He does not work such that people know how hard he is working.
He just quietly gives of himself, not counting the cost.
If he is not acknowledged for the hard work he does, he
even rejoices in that, so that his reward is only in heaven.
minds his own business, which is the Lord’s business.
He does not interfere in the work of other leaders, or compare
his work to theirs, or try to outdo others. He simply gives
it his best effort, offering his talents to the Lord, and
humbly recognizing his own shortcomings.
the servant leader does not stand on his position or on perks
of that position. “Not that we do not have the right.”
term “servant leadership” is an oxymoron. One
is a leader but is a servant. One is first but puts himself
last. One is the greatest but considers himself the least,
being the servant of all. One could be proud of his accomplishments,
but only says humbly that he is an unprofitable servant,
having done only his duty.
does not stand on his rights as a leader, on his authority,
power and perks, that normally come with the position. While
he does make use of these in the course of his service,
he uses them not as the world does, but as Jesus does, only
in humble service to others.
Fourth, the servant leader does not act in a disorderly way.
“For we did not act in a disorderly way among you”
(v.7b). “We hear that some are conducting themselves
among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding
the business of others.” (v.11). How might a servant
leader act in a disorderly way?
By not keeping busy, that is, by not going about the work
for which he has been appointed as leader. A leader works,
among other things, at peace and unity in the body. He tries
to settle disputes. He confronts disruptive dissent. He
guides. He instructs. If he does not do these things diligently,
then ultimately there will be disorder in the body.
minding the business of others, that is, rather than his
own business or assigned tasks. This is when he becomes
a busybody, or a know-it-all, or a self-appointed counselor,
or a misinformed critic.
taking up his problems or difference with other leaders
with those who have no business being engaged in such discussions,
such as his subordinates. Presenting only his side and his
biases, he turns his subordinates against the leaders he
maligns or speaks against.
campaigning to get other leaders to his side when he has
a dispute with another leader. This is a behind-the-scenes
campaign, often in whispers. Pretty soon there are already
opposing factions in the body.
being a gossip (a Christian murderer according to Pope Francis).
the servant leader does not abuse the kindness of brethren.
“Nor did we eat food received free from anyone.”
People often look up to or admire their good leaders, wanting
to do them favors or give them gifts. While such can be
received with gratitude, a servant leader must be very prudent
and must not abuse brethren’s hospitality, generosity
does not use his position to gain personal financial or
the servant leader works and serves and is not there just
be served. “In fact, when we were with you, we instructed
you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that
one eat.” (v.10).
While there are perks such as seats of honor, being first
in line for the buffet, being recognized in an assembly,
etc., the servant leader should try not to stand on those
privileges (though if the brethren insist, then one can
also humbly accept). The servant leader is one who takes
the lowest place.
servant leader is not one who continues with a position
while disagreeing, openly or secretly, with the directions
of the leaders over him or of the community. He does not
undermine the mission of the community by his dissent. He
does not just decide to go his own way. If something troubles
him, he takes that up with the proper authorities, with
respect and in good order.
the servant leader confidently presents himself as a model.
“For you know how one must imitate us.” (v.7a).
servant leader of course points people to Christ and not
to himself. But some times it is necessary to point to oneself,
so people can concretely see and hear how a Christian should
act or speak. Even Paul told the Corinthians to imitate
him as he imitates Christ.
one can confidently present himself as a model, he must
then first be walking solidly on the path of holiness and
he does not trumpet his “greatness,” he must
be able to tell people that indeed he is one who walks his
talk. He of course is not perfect, and can openly tell people
that he himself is a sinner who struggles with fully living
out the ways of Christ. But still, he can confidently tell
people that he is on the right path, the path he wants to
take others to.
servant leader serves not just by what he says or teaches,
but most especially by how he acts and lives out his life
and service. Again, while we are not perfect, we know that
we have become true servant leaders when we can tell our people,
“we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you,
so that you might imitate us.” (v.9b). The servant leader
knows he is striving to imitate Jesus, he knows he is a leader
who serves, he knows he is leading his people as Jesus would
have, he knows he can humbly stand before the Lord and be
commended by him. If so, then he can now present himself as
a model to be imitated.